After 43 years racing in Formula 1, the Renault DP World F1 Team has announced that it will rebrand itself as Alpine at the end of the 2020 season. The team will swap its black and yellow for France’s red, white, and blue. As part of the rebranding, Renault F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul has been charged with helping to elevate the Alpine brand, which currently produces the A110 sports car.
The news comes on the heels of July’s announcement that two-time world champion Fernando Alonso will join the team in 2021.
Alpine is renowned throughout motorsports, with the marque celebrating victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in rallying. The brand has never appeared as a manufacturer in F1 before; however, Renault’s first foray into F1 racing in 1977 was with a team formed from the Alpine and Gordini competition departments. Future chassis produced by the Enstone-based team will be designated Alpines, but the Renault name will remain, since the cars will run Renault E-TECH hybrid engines.
In addition to the F1 news, Alpine announced that it will join the FIA World Endurance Championship and will enter a LMP1 car in 2021. As the Signatech Alpine team, it has won two European titles, two world championships, and chalked up three LMP2 class victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Alpine LMP1 prototype will be based on an Oreca chassis and Gibson engine, both of which have a proven track record.
So exactly what is Alpine? Societe des Automobiles Alpine, as it was originally named, was founded by Jean Rédélé, a car dealer and racer, in 1955. Alpine’s first car was the A106, designed in tandem with legendary Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti and built using the Renault 4CV platform. It was with the A110, introduced in 1961, however, that Alpine found real success. The A110 featured a backbone chassis and a rear engine, the first of which was a 1108-cc four-cylinder.
The A110 proved to be a highly successful rally car, winning numerous events in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including a historic 1-2-3 at the 1971 Monte Carlo Rally. Its greatest triumph was winning the 1973 World Rally Championship. In 1965, its purpose-built prototype, the M65, won the 1300-cc class at the 12 Hours of Reims 12, then went on to win the Nürburgring 500km. Alpine continued to build on this racing success, and its endurance racing legacy culminated at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1978: An A442 B, piloted by driven by Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, took first place, beating the odds-on favorites from Porsche.
Renault acquired Alpine in 1971, and one of its tasks was to help build Renault’s F1 program. Debuting in 1977 with Jean-Pierre Jabouille driving, it took the Alpine Renault team two seasons before Jabouille took the checkered flag at Dijon in 1979. The partnership continued until 1985, when parent company Renault shuttered its F1 team, beginning a nearly 17-year absence from F1.
Between 1983 and 1995, Alpine continued as a manufacturer of road cars; occasionally, it would partner with Renault to build race cars and other high-performance vehicles. By 2013, Alpine was once again producing road-going sports cars for Renault as well as a few products under the Alpine brand. In 2017, Alpine launched its first road car in nearly 20 years, naming it the Alpine A110, with not only its name but also its design influenced by its predecessor.
The partnership between Renault and Alpine has come full circle with this rebranding. “Motorsport is inseparable from the Alpine brand, whose passion for competition and sportsmanship is its DNA,” said Patrick Marinoff, Alpine’s managing director. “We intend to take the fight to well-established competition and to write new pages in the history of this great brand born out of competition that is Alpine and to put the French colors at the highest levels of motorsport.”